Your Recovery Roadmap

The Oak Centre provides a holistic, task-centred approach to overcoming porn and sex addiction.

There are typically a number of underlying factors that need to be considered as part of a person’s long-term recovery program including, the impact of family of origin issues such as childhood neglect, abandonment, rejection, excessive criticism, abuse (verbal, physical, sexual), loss of a loved one, other traumatic events and life experiences, dysfunctional beliefs and an inability to manage difficult emotional states.

We recognise that each person’s life experiences are unique and therefore we adopt a ‘tailored’ approach to accommodate your specific life circumstances. Key tasks that support your recovery include:

    • Clarifying your personal values in terms of qualities, traits and attributes to which you aspire
    • Defining sexual sobriety
    • Processing/reframing childhood developmental wounds
    • Developing functional boundaries to support your recovery
    • Understanding the impact of your behaviour on your partner
    • Identifying and challenging dysfunctional beliefs
    • Learning to manage difficult emotions in healthier ways
    • Daily focus and effort to live your values

“People are happiest when they feel in control of their inner thoughts and feelings” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Renowned psychologist and author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience’)

About Porn Addiction

Dr Patrick Carnes defines pornography as: “Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement” (as opposed to eliciting feelings of affection and intimacy).

Neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Valerie Voon has reported that men and women who describe themselves as addicted to porn develop changes in the brain’s reward centres in a similar way that occurs when chemical drugs are ingested.

Porn addiction has become a serious problem for many individuals, couples, families – and according to some social scientists, a serious problem for society itself. The Internet has provided ease of access and perceived anonymity and these have fueled the unprecedented global consumption of porn.

Research and clinical experience have confirmed that porn addicts have often experienced one or more of a number of childhood developmental impairments such as lack of attachment, physical and/or emotional neglect, abandonment, high levels of criticism and judgement and verbal, physical or sexual abuse.

Ongoing porn viewing has been shown to adversely affect the ability of individuals to build and maintain intimate relationships. In fact, a porn addict may have difficulty becoming sexually aroused to his or her partner due to the fact that porn stimulates the pleasure centres in the brain to a level that cannot be attained through interacting with a partner. In short, a partner cannot compete with online and unlimited ‘pixel porn’.

The good news is that just as there was a process leading to porn addiction, there is also a process that can lead the porn addict to a state of recovery and healthy sexuality.

About Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is formally defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder. Individuals struggling with this disorder require specialised assessment and treatment by a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT).

For some people, compulsive sexual behaviour has become a way in which they try to manage or cope with the stresses of life. Such individuals feel compelled to ‘act out’ sexually inspite of the negative consequences.

Negative consequences can include loss of self-respect, self-neglect, self-harm, social withdrawal, partner and family neglect, relationship problems, loss of productivity, loss of employment, financial hardship, loss of intimacy with partner, and in some cases lawsuits and imprisonment.

Compulsive sexual behaviour usually has little to do with a person’s sexuality but rather, has more to do with the person’s inability to manage strong emotional feelings such as loneliness, shame, fear, depression, anxiety, boredom, stress, anger and sadness – just to name a few.

People struggling with sex addiction often lead a ‘double life’ – portraying one image in public and family life, but living a secret life in private that includes his/her ‘sexual ‘acting out’ behaviours.

Sex addiction is sometimes called an intimacy disorder because addicts find it difficult to make and keep intimate relationships, often due to childhood wounds caused by lack of parental attachment and nurturing, excessive criticism and physical and/or emotional neglect or abuse.

Sex addicts make ‘acting out’ a priority and are often willing to sacrifice what they value most in order to preserve and continue their medicating sexual behaviour.

The good news is that we now understand a lot more about porn and sex addiction and many addicts have experienced recovery and are living a happy, productive and fulfilling life in alignment with their personal values.

About Love Addiction

One form of addiction that may or may not include sexual ‘acting out’ behaviour is known as love addiction. Love addiction involves becoming excessively preoccupied with a spouse or partner to the point that every aspect of the love addict’s life becomes less important than his/her spouse or partner.

Love addicts are typically emotionally insecure and they project all their hopes and dreams for their future onto their partner and the relationship. Someone who is emotionally secure realizes that one person cannot be totally responsible for another’s happiness but love addicts are unable to comprehend this concept and pin all their hopes for happiness onto their spouse or partner.

Some love addicts do use sex as a way to hold on to their spouse or partner. They often feel unlovable if the relationship does not include sex, and worry that if their lovemaking is not satisfying, their spouse or partner may leave. The self-esteem of love addicts is often linked to their sexual desirability (or at least their perception of it) and when their spouse or partner is not sexually responsive, the love addict feels rejected and of less worth.

Like many addictions, the seeds of love addiction are often sown in one’s childhood. A lack of parental attachment, emotional neglect, abuse and dysfunctional family relationships can contribute to ‘attachment hunger’ which often manifests itself in later life – and especially in one’s relationships.